NASA cheers: Mars helicopter lives – video shows Ingenuity’s record flight

Ingenuity is alive, NASA is back in touch with their Mars helicopter. A new video shows the longest and fastest flight of the Mars helicopter.

NASA has released a video showing the recent record-breaking flight of the Ingenuity autonomous Mars helicopter. This is the 25th flight Ingenuity made on Mars on April 8, 2022, as NASA explains here. Ingenuity recorded the flight with its black-and-white downward-facing navigation camera, filming its shadow on the Martian surface. This camera always switches off automatically as soon as the helicopter is less than one meter above the surface. This is to prevent the dust that the navigation camera films from confusing the navigation system.

The flight path recorded with the video is 704 meters long. Ingenuity flew at a speed of 5.5 meters per second. The Mars helicopter thus set a new record: it was its longest and fastest flight. The flight altitude was ten meters.

This is how Ingenuity flies

Ingenuity flies autonomously. NASA scientists plan the flights and send the commands to the Mars rover Perseverance. This then forwards the commands to the helicopter. During flight, Ingenuity’s onboard sensors — the aforementioned navigation camera, an inertial measurement unit, and a laser range finder — provide real-time data to Ingenuity’s navigation processor and main flight computer, which autonomously control the helicopter in flight without intervention from the ground. This allows Ingenuity to react to the Martian landscape and carry out its commands.

NASA is back in touch with Ingenuity

NASA recently lost contact with Ingenuity, read more about this in the story Death Agony on Mars: Martian Landers Lost Power.

But now there is again contact between the ground station on Earth and the Mars rover Perseverance on the one hand and the Mars helicopter Ingenuity on the other. Since Ingenuity’s solar cells can currently supply enough electricity for Ingenuity’s six lithium batteries, NASA is already planning the next flight of the brave helicopter. That would be his 29th flight to Mars.

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